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How to Pitch a Tent

Step by step
How to Pitch a Tent

If you are planning to embark on your maiden camping trip, one of the most important things you need to do is learn how to pitch a tent. Right, every tent will come with its own guide on how to set up, but having a basic understanding of how to go about the initial setup helps prepare you for it. Things happen, and the last thing you want is to arrive on the camping site late in the afternoon and you just can’t seem to piece it together. If it’s a camping site, who knows, you could end up becoming the laughing stock!

That aside though, practicing beforehand gives you the leeway to make mistakes and learn; and make some more, and learn. Before you know it, it’s become a job for your left hand. Here is how to go about pitching.

Choose an appropriate Camping Site

trees woods camping

A good camping site is one that is flat and slightly raised. It is advisable to keep well away from areas that are lower in proportion to the surrounds, at least if you don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night in a puddle. Assuming you’ve located an ideal spot, go ahead and remove all debris from the area – pine cones, rocks, twigs, large sticks, branches, roots…just about everything you wouldn’t want to lie on or that could damage your tent.

Lay the Tarp

tent tarp

The role of the tarp is to put a barrier between the ground and you tent to not only protect against damage, but also to keep water and other types of moisture from getting inside. The tarp comes with the tent, but in the event that it doesn’t, a vinyl or plastic ground cloth should work just fine. Just make sure it measures the same as your tent’s footprint – the idea is to not let the ground cloth show which could collect rain or water under the tent. Assuming you’re all good on this, just lay the tarp or ground cloth on the site you cleared.

Lay the Tent on the Tarp

tent on tarp two men unfolding

Next, unfold the tent and locate the poles, stakes and fly. Just toss these on the side for now. Then take the tent, find its bottom and spread it across the tarp. This is the point you also establish where the front of the tent is because this will be your door. Set this in the direction you would like it, along with the windows, if any, to face.

In the case of bigger tents, setting up the tent with the doors slightly unzipped is a good practice that keeps air from getting stuck underneath. With smaller tents, the direction of the door shouldn’t concern you much at this point as it will be easier once you attach the poles.

Put together the Poles

people putting tent together

Poles come in an array of types, but in most cases, connecting them together should be easy. Some are interlocking and designed to link into each other, while others may be numbered or color-coded. So it’s your job to figure out which poles connect where. Depending on your tent’s size, there are bound to be several similar sized poles that will run parallel or cross each other.

Attach Poles to the Tent

tent diagram

The next step is to attach the poles to the tent. Regular tents feature large twin poles which cross each other in the middle of the tent, but the advanced ones will have more. Regardless, they all connect to the tent in one of two ways:

  • Sliding the poles into the flaps
  • Clipping the poles directly to the tent

If your tent has flaps, locate the eyelets on the corners and slide the poles right through the flaps until they get to the other side. As for clip tents, you need to lay the poles on the tent first, then secure each part with a clip.

Put Up the Tent

tent outside

This is a part you might want to enlist a little bit of help. Lucky for you if you have a self-standing tent because the poles will bend on their own, therefore straightening the tent in the process. And all you’ll need to do is secure the thing to the ground. If it’s a regular tent you’re dealing with, however, time to buckle up. Get one of the poles and bend it as to stretch the whole tent, following which you should connect the end of that pole to its corresponding corner. Then move on the next pole, until you get to the last one where you have to lay down the tent and adjust its direction.

Note that it gets harder as you shift to the next pole because the tent is getting stretched, so by all means, feel free to ask for help. That out of the way, secure the tent to the ground. You will find straps with loops or grommets (guylines) on the corners of the tent. Take a stake and squeeze it through the loop, securing it as much to the ground as possible. You may also want to push the stake to the ground at an angle to prevent the strap and stake from flying off when it gets windy.

Put on the Rainfly

tent blue rainfly

The fly is basically a tarp that goes over the tent to keep rain and wetness at bay. Make sure it lines up with the tent’s front. And with that, your work is done!

Not so difficult now, right? These steps should just about cover most tent models, and if there are any differences, it should be nothing major.

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